International Anti-Corruption Day was observed around the world including Pakistan with a solemn message to stand united against corruption for development, peace and security. Corruption is a serious crime that undermines social and economic development in all societies. No country, region, or community is immune from the menace.
According to the UN, every year a staggering $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption. This is equivalent to more than five percent of the global GDP. In developing countries, the funds lost to corruption are estimated at ten times the amount of official development programs.
Many people often think that corruption is just a way of life now, but these international days serve to educate the public, mobilise political will and invest resources to address the problem. Every society and individual will benefit from eliminating corruption. We can all take action to stop corrupt practices.
In Pakistan, the institutions tasked with eradicating corruption have become a victim of the menace due to political interference. NAB chairman claimed to have recovered Rs.73 billion from corrupt elements this year and was persistent that the bureau does not have a grudge against anyone. There are corruption cases and references ongoing against several political personalities but they have yet to reach a logical conclusion.
The inability to gain a verdict in mega corruption cases gives credence to the opposition’s claim that the cases are fabricated and politically motivated. The anti-corruption watchdog has snared several senior politicians, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Zardari, for allegedly being involved in multi-billion rupee corruption cases.
NAB has to repeatedly prove its impartiality that it does not seek political revenge against any individual. Many politicians and officials have assailed NAB for selective accountability. Bilawal has termed NAB a ‘black law’ made by a dictator, while Shehbaz Sharif has critictised what he called an ‘unholy alliance’ between NAB and PTI. If the watchdog has to prove its allegiance, then it cannot concentrate of the elephant in the room.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken on numerous occasions on the perils of corruption, and how politicians plundered the nation and stashed their wealth. The crusade against corruption cannot be the responsibility of one person but rather the entire nation needs to support him in achieving this feat. The parliament has to play its role and even individuals considered untouchable by the law should be held accountable for their crimes. Only then will our dream of a corruption-free Pakistan come to light.